Tottenham Hotspur 4 Aston Villa 4: Catcalls turn to cheers as Kaboul saves Spurs' skin
Tuesday 02 October 2007
It was a match that will have done little for Martin Jol's nerves and possibly even less for his job prospects, but last night's Premiership encounter at White Hart Lane proved a fitting celebration of Tottenham's 125th birthday.
The club's history is marked by attacking and cavalier football and this roller-coaster contest was in the best Tottenham traditions. Having seen Aston Villa go 4-1 up, Jol's men responded with three goals in the last 22 minutes to salvage a point, the equaliser coming two minutes into injury time.
A pre-match ceremony marked the club's founding in 1882 by a group of young cricketers looking for winter recreation. Every supporter was given a white and sky-blue flag to wave as a parade of Tottenham legends lined up on the pitch including Cliff Jones, Dave Mackay, Steve Perryman, Pat Jennings and Glenn Hoddle. Among the suits, smart blazers and overcoats, David Ginola stood out in jeans and roll-neck pullover.
The presentations helped to whip the fans into a frenzy of expectation and at first they seemed also to inspire the modern-day wearers of the Tottenham shirt, which on this occasion was a one-off 125th anniversary strip, based on one of the club's early jerseys.
Tottenham stretched the Villa defence at every opportunity, with Dimitar Berbatov the focal point of their best moves. After 18 minutes Scott Carson managed to deflect Pascal Chimbonda's free header after Gareth Bale's corner from the right. Then Tom Huddlestone delivered the subsequent corner from the other side Berbatov was given space to head home from close range.
Within two minutes, however, the home crowd were silenced after a shocking mistake by Paul Robinson. The Tottenham goalkeeper, under little pressure, dropped a corner. The ball bounced free to Martin Laursen, who gratefully stabbed it into the back of the net.
Eleven minutes later the Villa centre back was celebrating his second. After Ashley Young's quickly taken free kick, Gareth Barry crossed to the far post, where Zat Knight knocked the ball back in the direction of his defensive partner, who deflected it past a static Robinson. Gabriel Agbonlahor scored Villa's third six minutes before the break with a fine effort into the far corner of the net from 15 yards.
Villa fans greeted the third goal with an ironic chorus of "Happy birthday, dear Tottenham" and then taunted Jol with a round of "You're getting sacked in the morning".
Jol responded by bringing on Jermain Defoe eight minutes into the second half, to loud applause from the home crowd. The England striker had an immediate impact with a smart break, but further trouble was in store at the other end. After 58 minutes Younes Kaboul's foul on Agbonlahor gave Villa a free kick on the edge of the penalty area and Craig Gardner powered a low shot into the far corner of the net.
Ten minutes later, with the home crowd starting to boo their own team, Chimbonda threw Spurs a lifeline. Defoe's shot thumped against a post and he drove home the rebound.
After 81 minutes Tottenham began to believe in the most improbable of recoveries. Marlon Harewood's clumsy challenge on Darren Bent was punished by a penalty, which Robbie Keane converted.
Tottenham piled forward in search of the equaliser, which finally came in injury time. In a packed penalty area the ball fell into the path of Kaboul via Defoe, who was clearly offside, and the young defender crashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
Goals: Berbatov (19) 1-0; Laursen (22) 1-1; (33) 1-2; Agbonlahor (40) 1-3; Gardner (59) 1-4; Chimbonda (69) 2-4; Keane pen (82) 3-4; Kaboul (90) 4-4.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Bale; Lennon (Malbranque, 86) , Zokora, Huddlestone, Tainio (Defoe, 54); Keane, Berbatov (Bent, 73). Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Rocha.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Carson; Mellberg, Knight, Laursen, Bouma; Gardner (Petrov, 73), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young; Moore (Harewood, 67), Agbonlahor. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Davies, Osbourne.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).
Booked: Tottenham Keane, Kaboul Aston Villa Reo-Coker, Gardner.
Man of the match: Bale.
From jaws of defeat Spurs' eight-goal roller-coaster
* 20 min (1-0): Dimitar Berbatov puts Tottenham ahead with header six yards out from inswinging corner.
* 22 min (1-1): Aston Villa equalise when goalkeeper Paul Robinson drops corner and Martin Laursen scores from six yards.
* 33 min (1-2): Laursen scores second with header after Zat Knight heads ball back across goal.
* 40 min (1-3): Villa go further ahead when Gabriel Agbonlahor scores from right of penalty area.
* 59 min (1-4): Craig Gardner hits free-kick from 20 yards for Villa's fourth.
* 69 min (2-4): Spurs pull a goal back when Pascal Chimbonda scores from right side of six-yard box.
* 82 min (3-4): Robbie Keane scores penalty after Chimbonda was fouled.
* 90 min (4-4): Younes Kaboul's strike from 12 yards gives Spurs late draw.
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